Today I’m excited to have debut author Gerrard Cowan on the blog answering a few questions about himself and his new book The Machinery.
Lillian: Welcome Gerrard! Tell us a little about yourself.
Gerrard: I’m a writer and editor from Ireland, currently living in London. I work as a News Editor for The Wall Street Journal and write fantasy novels in my spare time. My wife Sarah and I have a two-year-old son and a two-month-old daughter, so things have been pretty hectic of late – when I’m not writing I’m either working or running around after the kids!
Lillian: What inspired you to become a writer?
Gerrard: I always wanted to write fantasy novels, right from when I was a kid. I had the idea for The Machinery back in 2008, but it took me quite a while to get into a proper writing routine. I finished the novel in 2012, or rather, I finished it to what I considered an acceptable level to send to agents. The final version is substantially different, following the editing process.
Lillian: Is there an author or book that influenced you?
Gerrard: It’s an obvious answer but I loved Lord of the Rings growing up. These days I would probably put Mervyn Peake as my favourite fiction author, though at the time I wrote The Machinery I was actually reading a lot more non-fiction (history, biographies etc).
Lillian: I LOVE dystopians and fantasies (obviously) and The Machinery fits both those. Where do you get your ideas?
Gerrard: I have no idea! The idea for The Machinery came to me totally out of the blue in the summer of 2008: I thought it would be interesting to write about a society whose leaders are selected by a machine, which is now breaking. I didn’t know anything about the book apart from this, and so everything else – the setting, the characters, even the plot – evolved over the next few years.
Lillian: What was your favorite part to write?
Gerrard: Hmm, this is a great question. Overall, I would have to say chapter one is now my favourite, though it was actually hard to write: it was the first chapter not only of this book, but it was the first chapter of any book I’ve ever published, so I really wanted it to work. I don’t want to give too much away, but something pretty creepy and unexpected occurs in this chapter, and it took a lot of work until I was satisfied with it.
Lillian: I can’t wait to start it 😀 If you could go back and do it all over again, is there anything you would change about your novel?
Gerrard: Ask me again after the reviews come in!
Lillian: Is there a character or theme from The Machinery you’d like to go back to?
Gerrard: This is actually the first book in a trilogy, so I will be returning to the same themes and many of the same characters again soon: in fact I’m almost finished Book Two, which will be called The Strategist. That being said, I really enjoyed the political element to the story, and I imagine that if and when I write something entirely different, there’ll be some of that.
Lillian: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Gerrard: A writer friend of mine told me a long time ago (years before I even started work on The Machinery) that you should treat writing like an athlete treats training: it’s something you do every day, whether you like it or not. That’s the best advice I’ve ever got. You need to develop a routine and keep slogging on, even if you’re not happy with what you produce.
Lillian: Now for a few fun questions….Favorite movie?
Gerrard: The Matrix. I was thinking recently about the first time I saw this in the cinema. I have never experienced anything like it: the special effects just blew me away, and they were married to such a compelling story.
Lillian: Favorite TV show?
Gerrard: Oh this is much trickier, especially in this golden age of TV. The one show I’d watch again on repeat is The West Wing. It’s a smart show, but it has a lot of heart, too. I also loved the new version of Battlestar Galactica. Who didn’t?
Lillian: Favorite place to write?
Gerrard: I try and snatch time to write wherever I am, but I’d have to say my desk at home. It’s a boring answer, but I like to sit up straight when I write!
Don’t Miss The Machinery, Available Now!The Machinery by Gerrard Cowan
Published by HarperCollins on 2015-09-10
Length: 400 pages
For ten millennia, the leaders of the Overland have been Selected by the Machinery, an omnipotent machine gifted to their world in darker days.
The city has thrived in arts, science and war, crushing all enemies and expanding to encompass the entire Plateau.
But the Overland is not at ease, for the Machinery came with the Prophecy: it will break in the 10,000th year, Selecting just one leader who will bring Ruin to the world. And with the death of Strategist Kane, a Selection is set to occur…
For Apprentice Watcher Katrina Paprissi, the date has special significance. Life hasn’t been the same since she witnessed the kidnapping of her brother Alexander, the only person on the Plateau who knew the meaning of the Prophecy.
When the opportunity arises to find her brother, Katrina must travel into the depths of the Underland, the home of the Machinery, to confront the Operator himself and discover just what makes the world work…